Community Update: East River Bank project another step toward riverfront renaissance, Yard waste/brush collection begins soon – do your part to help


East River Bank project another step toward riverfront reawakening

Next Monday, the City of Wisconsin Rapids will take another visible step forward toward revitalizing our Downtown Riverfront District: Contractor crews will begin work on Phase 1 of our River Bank Improvement Project.

Contractor crews will begin south of the Riverview Expressway and work their way north to downtown through the construction season. Completion of this phase of the overall riverbank improvement project is expected by September 28.

Work for the overall Riverbank Improvement Project primarily focuses on the East River Corridor, from Riverview Expressway to East Grand Avenue, and includes riverbank stabilization with rip rap, re-grading, and installation of a new kayak/canoe launch and shade structure in Demitz Park. An underbridge trail connection is being added so pedestrians and bicyclists may safely get between the north and south sides of the Riverview Expressway safely, as well as a trail along 2nd street from Mead Street north. Separately, a recreational trail will also get paved this summer along the 1st Street north corridor to Biron.

This first phase is part of our community’s overall vision to enhance and improve ways for residents, visitors and businesses to interact with public spaces along the Wisconsin River, our City’s most precious natural asset which began in 2013. Creating such a space is key to economic development: It is estimated that other Wisconsin communities that have enhanced their riverfront areas have seen an average of a $7 return on investment for every dollar put into such projects.

State of Wisconsin support for this Phase 1 East River Bank improvement comes from a grant of more than $700,000 from the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. We are proud that the State has expressed its confidence in our plans for growth, development and prosperity in the Downtown Waterfront District. A vibrant central place not only benefits Wisconsin Rapids residents and visitors, but the broader region as a whole.

Weekly updates for the East River Bank project will be posted online at the City website,, under Public Works. For more information, call 715-421-8205.

Spring yard waste collection begins soon – do your part to help

Public Works crews provide brush pickup the last week of each month May – October.

Spring has arrived – and with it, the desire to get a fresh start on our lawns and surrounding property. City of Wisconsin Rapids Streets Department workers will help residents get started, but they need your help to make their work as efficient as possible.

City crews begin with a week of yard waste pickup, scheduled for May 14-21. To prepare for this pickup, have your yard waste bagged at the curb in front of your residence.

Then, throughout the spring and running through the middle of autumn, the City will make regular runs to pick up brush and trees during the last full workweek of each month. Again, you can help workers get the most out of their efforts, by piling your brush in a neat and orderly fashion, limited to maximum size of 4 feet high, six feet wide and 10 feet long.

See the full brush pickup schedule for 2018, here.

Crews will make only one trip through City neighborhoods on designated collection days. So, remember to have your waste and/or brush out and ready to collect on the Sunday prior to the week of pick up.

For more information, contact the Public Works Street Department at 715-421-8218.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Young Professionals highlight local opportunity, Join Wisconsin Rapids Spring Clean 2.0 on May 13



Young Professionals highlight local opportunity

Wisconsin Rapids will join 26 other communities throughout the State of Wisconsin to focus on the future of our community, during Young Professionals Week, April 20-28.

Current , the vibrant Young Professionals organization in Wisconsin Rapids, invites area professionals of all ages and career stages to share experiences, viewpoints and aspirations through a variety of interactive learning and social events:

  • Multi Millions: Community Investment Panel will run from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, at the Wisconsin Rapids Elks Club, 430 W. Jackson Street. Panelists representing Aspirus Riverview Hospital & Clinics, South Wood County YMCA, Wisconsin Rapids Area Boys & Girls Club, Incourage and the City of Wisconsin Rapids will provide an overview and answer questions about the multi-million dollar projects happening in our City.
  • Workout Wednesday, on Wednesday, April 25, will feature a morning yoga class at 7 a.m. and an evening workout at 7 p.m. at Limitless Bootcamp, 3110 48th Street N. in Grand Rapids.

YPWeek highlights the range of opportunities that are possible in our area and how young professionals can help to bring that future to life. I join with Current in inviting you to continue joining in to grow a sustainable environment for civic engagement and economic growth.

Join Wisconsin Rapids Spring Clean 2.0 on May 13

The City of Wisconsin Rapids and Current, our local Young Professionals organization, once again urge all residents, young and old, to help beautify our City’s neighborhoods, during the second annual Spring Clean event.

File photo – In 2017 the event took place in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids, but this year the event will stage outside Sportsman’s Pub & Grille, 4810 Eighth Street S.

Meet us this Sunday, May 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., outside Sportsman’s Pub & Grille, 4810 Eighth Street S., for a group photo and drink specials. Location assignments, garbage bags and gloves will be provided.

This is truly a total community event, for young and old. Adults and minors  can register to pitch in and help.

Do your part for to put a good “face” on our community … join Spring Clean 2.0!​

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Dispose of outdated/unwanted medications at Drug Take-Back Event, Healthy Family Fun Night, Dispatch Center telecommunication on front line of keeping citizens safe




Dispose of outdated/unwanted medications at Drug Take-Back Event

Do you have prescription drugs that are outdated, no longer needed and/or could be abused by someone in your home?

Bag up your unneeded medications, and bring them to the Prescription Drug Take-Back Event, this Friday, April 20, at the Wisconsin Rapids Copps, 900 E. Riverview Expressway.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can dispose of a wide variety of controlled and non-controlled prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, creams, inhalers, liquids, non-aerosol sprays, ointments, patches, pet medications and vials.

For more information, call the Wood County Health Department at 715-421-8923.

And, don’t forget to join thousands of other Wisconsinites next week in the battle against substance abuse, during Dose of Reality Week, April 22-29. Together, as a community, let’s learn how we help to prevent opioid, narcotic, and prescription painkiller abuse and addiction.

Healthy Family Fun Night

Recognizing and encouraging our local efforts to improve overall community health and well-being is very important for our community to prosper.  Please join the Healthy People Wood County, the Boys and Girls Club of Wisconsin Rapids, and UW-Stevens Point who are hosting a community “Healthy Family Night” Thursday, April 19 from 5-6:30pm held at the former Pitsch Elementary School site.

There is no cost to attend the event and a free meal is provided to families who attend the event along with fun activities and a raffle to win a prize!

The night will include activities such as:

  • Family Fun Boot Camp
  • Mushroom Tag
  • Family Fun Yoga
  • Healthy Family Dinners on a Budget
  • How to Read a Nutrition Label

In addition to offering a fun night of programming, the group is looking for input through a short survey questions

Please help spread the word about this  event to parents, organizational staff, and other stakeholders, it would be much appreciated.   For more information visit their Facebook Event Page.

Dispatch Center telecommunication on front line of keeping citizens safe

Photo submitted – Wood County Dispatch Center workers take calls.

This past week has been highlighted by the observance of National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. The City of Wisconsin Rapids recognizes all the highly skilled professionals who provide life-saving assistance to citizens and emergency responders 24/7, and throughout the year.

Our law enforcement and other emergency dispatchers work behind the scenes to help police, firefighters and medical professionals coordinate timely responses to an array of urgent – and sometimes, life-threatening  – situations. Employing advanced training and cutting-edge technologies, these dedicated individuals help to alleviate injuries, minimize property damage and save lives.

Since last August, the Wood County Dispatch Center has operated out of renovated facilities on the second floor of the County Courthouse here in Wisconsin Rapids. Twenty employees rotate on two-hour shifts across six terminals, taking calls from all over Wood County. Calls from residents of Wisconsin Rapids total some 25,000 per year – a number that indicates the crucial role safety telecommunicators play in our daily lives.

Dispatch Center Supervisor Lori Heideman invites the public to come in to see the new, upgraded facility. For more information about how Wood County Dispatch works for you, contact Lori at 715-421-8668.

Thanks for reading!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds, Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale, Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy



Observe “Work Zone Awareness” as construction season proceeds

Photo by Travis Plowman/WRCM – When driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.

Will Spring arrive so we can transition our Public Works activities?! Of course it will, but when?!

April 9 to 13 has been designated Work Zone Awareness Week in Wisconsin. This event is designed to prevent traffic crashes and injuries in construction and maintenance areas along Wisconsin’s roadways.

Whether driving locally or statewide, drivers are asked to stay alert in work areas.  As the spring thaw begins, our City’s Public Works department are out filling potholes, removing sand from city roads, picking up brush and more, so please slow down in the work areas to keep our workers safe.

The week long event includes awarenesses of local municipal projects, utility work and emergency response situations, as well as major highway construction and rolling maintenance operations.  

How can you help?

  • Be especially cautious while driving in areas where workers are present;
  • Eliminate distractions such as the temptation to grab your phone;
  • Obey posted speed limits; and
  • Be courteous and patient.

More tips and information are available here.

Whether we’re working, walking or driving in a work zone, everyone wants to make it home safe at night. Let’s work together to be safe!

Beautify your neighborhood through the Community Tree Sale

Spring is officially here despite the scene outside portraying a wintery look; and the Mayor’s Council on Beautification’s Annual Community Tree Sale is under way.

Through Monday, May 7, you can place an order for your property … or, you can generously donate a tree to spruce up city property. You can also order in honor of or remembrance of a special loved one – memorial plaques are available at additional cost. Money from the sale helps to fund more beautification projects for the city.

You can order from among four species of three- to ten-foot bare root trees for $65 apiece:

  • Autumn Blaze Maple – Rapid growth in an upright manner, drought tolerance and orange-red fall color; grows to 50’-60’x40’.
  • Donald Wyman Crabapple Upright in youth and rounds into maturity, with glossy green foliage and white flowers that give way to small, red fruit; 20’x20’.
  • Profusion Crabapple Upright, spreading crabapple features abundant, purple-red flowers with pink centers; purple foliage fades to bronze-green; 18’-24’x25’.
  • Whitespire Birch Displays chalk-white bark and a hardy nature that is tolerant of most soil conditions and considered pest resistant; grows to 30’-40’x20’.

Pick-up takes place at the City Garage in mid May.

For more information, or to place an order, call Sue Winch at 715-213-1747 or e-mail

Arbor Day is near – plant a tree, leave a legacy

City file photo- Celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree.

It was in 1872, a Nebraska newspaper editor and, later, Secretary of Agriculture J. Sterling Morton suggested setting aside a special day for tree planting. That idea is now more important than ever. In addition to adding value to your home, trees regulate the temperature of your neighborhood, and provide food for wildlife.

Arbor Day takes place this year on Friday, April 27. Here are a few suggestions for commemorating the day:

  • Plant a tree;
  • Choose a public park or downtown area to clean up;
  • Hold an Arbor Day block party; and
  • Organize a Big Tree or Oldest Tree search within your community.

You can find other ideas by checking the Arbor Day Foundation website.

Together, let’s work to make our community cleaner and greener. Plant a tree, and watch it grow!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Thank you; Support your community – be a volunteer; Opportunity Zone designation offers investment potential



Thank you!

Despite a historic snowfall strongly impacting voter turnout, a core number of voters were undeterred in exercising their right to vote Tuesday. I am deeply grateful to be able to continue serving you- the residents for another term! Our work continues in supporting a pro-business environment to promote new investments in business and job growth, to improve neighborhoods, and to bring about world-class community facilities. I look forward to working with residents, Staff and the City Council to ‘make it happen’.

Support your community – be a volunteer

One of the rewards of being Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids is the opportunity to see firsthand the active engagement of our residents in activities and initiatives designed to make our city a better place in which to live, work and play. “Right now” is always the ideal time to share your talent and support as a volunteer.

If you’re looking to volunteer check out the current opportunities, here.

To find your volunteer match, call 715-421-0390 or search, here.

Volunteering is great way to become engaged in our community and help others in need.

In recognition of volunteers, I will be attending the Volunteer Recognition Breakfast at the Hotel Mead on Tuesday, April, 17.  If you would like to attend please register by April 10, 2018, here, or call 715-421-0390.

In addition, opportunities abound for civic-minded individuals as part of a Mayor’s Council. Members of he Mayor’s Beautification Council, for example, currently are putting together working with City officials on the Streetscape proposal incorporated into the East Grand Avenue reconstruction plan; and planning for the summer hanging basket program.

Also, Youth Council members have solicited community input contributing to the Municipal Zoo Master Plan and maintaining their fundraising efforts for the Regional Aquatic Center at Witter Field.

Again, the time is always right help build a stronger and more vibrant community. Step forward as an individual, or enlist your family, friends, co-workers or social group. However you choose to take action, you inspire and create change for the better.

Opportunity Zone approval offers investor potential for City


A portion of the area designated (River-west; W. Grand Ave- south)

Thanks to Governor Walker and State of Wisconsin economic development officials, the City of Wisconsin Rapids has an enhanced opportunity to secure redevelopment investments.

After a thorough review process, the State on March 21st, selected a low-income census tract in the Wisconsin Rapids area to be designated as an “Opportunity Zone.” The local tract was included in a list of areas statewide that the Governor sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

This new economic development initiative was included in the federal Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage economic growth in low-income census tracts across the country. The Opportunity Zones program gives investors the chance to reduce their capital gains tax when they invest in distressed parts of the country.

Once approved, the Opportunity Zone designation will remain in place for 10 years, if necessary.

The Department of Treasury must complete certification of Opportunity Zones within 30 days of receipt of a nomination from a governor. Thus, implementation of the program could begin as early as the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

We express gratitude to State officials for working with us to designate a qualifying area of Wisconsin Rapids for this exciting investment opportunity. Special recognition also goes to U.S. Representative Ron Kind, who co-sponsored the Opportunity Zone concept in Congress.

We continue to pursue every available investment tool available to grow our economy and create jobs for our residents.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Youth Council unveils Municipal Zoo Master Plan, survey results, City hosting open house for Zoning Rewrite, County Drug Task Force invites you to “A Path Towards Progress” 



Youth Council unveils Municipal Zoo Master Plan, survey results

Community Development Specialist Madelin Petz shares information along with the Mayor’s Youth Council on the Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo master plan during a Parks and Recreation meeting on March 14.

When a generous benefactor last year provided $300,000 toward improvements to the Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Zoo, members of the Mayor’s Youth Council, led by Community Development Specialist Madelin Petz, put their energy into helping to develop a formal master plan process to guide future investments and improvements.

To help shape that process, they wanted to hear the thoughts of families in the community to prioritize future projects and programming at the Zoo. So, last month, the Youth Council helped create a brief survey to gather feedback and thoughts from local residents. With survey results in hand, Madelin and members of the Youth Council at the March 14 meeting of the Parks & Recreation Commission.

I am pleased to say that the community responded in grand fashion: In just 3 weeks, the survey yielded 638 responses, with 68 percent of respondents saying that they had visited the Zoo some time during 2017. Respondents also offered their ideas for improvements in animal exhibits, play/exhibit features and programmed activities. This input was invaluable, as was evident from the Master Plan elements the Youth Council presented to Commission members.

Many thanks to Madeline and the Mayor’s Youth Council for their ongoing efforts to create and enact an enhanced and advanced vision for a true community treasure. And thank you, our citizens, for making your voices heard!

City hosting open house for Zoning Rewrite Monday, March 19th

Click on the photo above to learn more about the zoning code project.

The City of Wisconsin Rapids invites residents, business owners and other interested persons to learn more about the new proposed zoning code and potential amendments to the City’s comprehensive plan, during an open house on Monday, March 19.

People can drop in at the All Purpose Room of McMillan Memorial Library, 490 E. Grand Avenue, anytime from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The Planning Commission will use the input received at the open house to prepare a final draft. A public hearing will likely be scheduled in April or May to accept formal input on the final drafts.

When completed, the new zoning code will be integrated into other land-use regulations as outlined in the City’s comprehensive plan and be internally consistent, with no overlapping or contradictory provisions. The comprehensive plan will provide a 20-year vision and rational basis for local land use and economic development decisions.

You can find the proposed zoning code here. For more information, contact Adam Tegen, Director of Community Development, at 715-421-8225.

We look forward to seeing you!

County Drug Task Force invites you to “A Path Towards Progress”

The Wood County Drug Task Force invites all concerned residents and their young ones to attend “A Path Towards Progress: What’s been happening in our community to address the drug epidemic?”. This special program takes place on Wednesday, March 21 at McMillan Memorial Library, 490 W. Grand Avenue, in Wisconsin Rapids.

Law enforcement officials will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about local drug trends; efforts to support individuals and families affected by substance abuse; and community resources available for local residents who need help.  

The event includes a free meal and childcare.

You can register, here. For more information, contact Ashley at 715-421-8923

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update: Exercise your right to vote this spring, Community survey results in, Nominate a volunteer!



Exercise your right to vote this spring

Beginning Monday, March 12, 2018  you have the opportunity to help select your governmental leaders by exercising your right to vote in “Early Voting” at City Hall, which last until March 30, 2018.  Eligible residents can cast their ballots in person at City Hall, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  You can also wait until election day on April 3, 2018 to vote too.

Take advantage of this uniquely American opportunity to make your voice heard. Exercise your precious right to choose your elected representatives this spring!

City of Wisconsin Rapids:

Elections for Mayor, Clerk, City Attorney, and Alderpersons from even-numbered wards are held in April. School District, County and nominees for State offices also are elected.

If you’re interested in learning more about the City candidates running in the spring election you can watch a forum scheduled for March 14 at 6:30 pm at the Community Theater located in the Centralia Center.  The forum is also broadcasted ‘LIVE’ on  Wisconsin Rapids Community Media’s (WRCM) website at’s Facebook Page, Solarus Cable Ch. 3 or Charter Spectrum Ch. 985.  You can also engage in the event by calling in a question for the candidates to answer at 715-423-0443 during the forum.

LWVWR School Board candidate forum Wednesday, March 14th at 6:00pm  – Community Theater

LWVWR County Board candidate forum Tuesday, March 13th at 6:30pm – Wisconsin Rapids Community Media studio

Absentee Ballots:

Voters who are confined to home by illness or age, or who cannot get to the polls on Election Day may obtain absentee ballots at the City Clerk’s office. Absentee ballots must be applied for in writing, and can be cast only at the clerk’s office.

City of Wisconsin Rapids voting sites are located at:

  1. Wards 1-10, 22 and 23 – Centralia Center – 220 3rd Avenue South
  2. Wards 11-21 and 24 – Crossview Church – 1000 East Riverview Expressway – Suite 120

Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. To locate your ward, contact the City Clerk’s office at 715-421-8200, or visit and click the “Find My Polling Place” tab.

Registration Required:

To register, you must have a Wisconsin driver’s license or a photo ID with your current address. Residents may register at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall at 444 W. Grand Avenue, any time, or at the polls on Election Day. Eligibility requirements for voter registration and additional voter information are available here.

Community survey results to be shared!

With your help, nearly 4,000 residents took part in Incourage Community Survey.  The survey results give us an outlook on what’s on community members’ minds, their desires.   Next week, Incourage will be hosting a public event to learn the results of the survey and where residents see challenges and opportunities. Please join in to be a part of planning a path forward for our community on Tuesday, March 13, 6pm at the Wisconsin Rapids Performing Arts Center.

If you have any questions please contact Incourage at 715-423-3863.

Nominate a volunteer!

Do you know a volunteer who goes above and beyond the call of duty?  Nominate them!  During the United Way’s Volunteer Breakfast on April 17, 2018 volunteers who have been nominated will be honored.  This is a great opportunity to spend quality time with volunteers, let them know how much you appreciate them and educate the community.

But the deadline is FRIDAY, March 9, at 4:00 pm!  Nominations either need to be mailed – and postmarked – by March 9th or submitted electronically by March 9th at 4:00 pm.

Nominate a volunteer, here.

Visit an online database of volunteer opportunities at!

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink